Leamington boss Paul Holleran labelled Saturday’s FA Cup exit at Highgate United as “one of the most disappointing days” in his time at the club but says he is at a loss to explain it.
An insipid display saw Brakes go 3-0 down to the Midland League Premier Division side before Jack Edwards’ header reduced the arrears with 20 minutes left.
However, the visitors rarely looked like salvaging anything from the first round qualifying tie, leaving Holleran to reflect on another tame cup exit.
“It was a real low. It was the performance that got to me,” said Holleran. “It was a very unlike Leamington performance.
“It runs close to one of the most disappointing days in the seven, eight years I’ve been here.
“It’s a hard situation to explain.
“We prepared exactly the same way as any other game.
“We were aware Highgate were an up and down side and one of those teams that could win 5-0 one week and lose 5-0 the next.
“We came down in pre-season and that set us up well in that we knew what they were all about.
“But when collectively you have so many players below their personal standards then you have a problem.
“Nine of the starting XI were nowhere near where they need to be.
“We weren’t in control of our emotions, our decisions. When you have got a situation like that you get what we got.
“I said to the players that they had let the staff down, the club down and our supporters down.”
Holleran said there were a few home truths told in the changing room after the game and highlighted the performance of Connor Gudger as indicative of whole team’s display.
The left-back, who made the Southern League Team of the Year last season, had an afternoon to forget, culminating in a sending off for a second yellow card in the closing minutes.
“I’m certainly not going to defend them from Saturday.
“As a group we’re not going to be able to get away with many days like that.
“All the times I’ve watched
Connor Gudger I can’t remember him having a poor game.
“He’s so consistent, reliable and defensively strong.
“How then can I explain his performance on Saturday?
“And that was the same for a number of players.”
Holleran knows six points from the next two home Southern Premier games will go a long way to banishing the disappointment of the FA Cup exit.
However, he expects both tomorrow’s visitors Weymouth and Redditch, who Brakes host on Tuesday evening, to be title rivals despite having made mixed starts to the campaign.
“Weymouth and Redditch will be challenging us for the top spots in the league and the only way to move on is to make sure the next performance is where it needs to be,” he said.
“Weymouth are always going to be a big threat, they’ve got big players and big ambitions.
“It’s a good game to bounce back at.”
Gudger will miss tomorrow’s match as he serves a one-match suspension.